President Trump imposed steep tariffs on solar products, responding to a trade case that sought to protect U.S. industry from cheap imports, including from China, news outlets reported. Some fuel oil dealers that diversified into solar installations might be affected.
Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, said on Jan. 22 that the president had decided to accept the recommendations of his trade advisers, The New York Times and other news outlets reported. The President also imposed a tariff on washing machines. The United States International Trade Commission, an independent body of trade experts, examined the cases and found that imports were hurting domestic manufacturers, The Times and other news outlets reported.
“Based on the recommendation of the independent, bipartisan U.S. International Trade Commission, I am taking action to impose safeguard tariffs on imported residential washing machines and all solar products,” Trump said in a statement.
The solar tariffs “create far more losers than winners,” according to Dr. Varun Sivaram, a fellow of The Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University. “The tariffs on solar panels and components (as well as washing machines) are from nearly every country in the world,” the statement noted. The tariffs start at 30%, and are scheduled to decrease, in stages, to 15% over four years and then expire.
Sivaram surveyed four areas affected by Trump’s solar tariffs—domestic manufacturing, innovation in solar technology, domestic deployment of solar power, and trade retaliation and disputes—concluding that the tariffs will not generate material benefits in any of them.